People vs. Ramos

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  Today is Sunday, November 09, 2014 Today is Sunday, November 09,2014 Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT ManilaSECOND DIVISION G.R. No. L-59318 May 16, 1983PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. ROGELIO RAMOS y GAERLAN, defendant-appellant. The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee. Antonio N. Salamera for defendant-appellant.  GUERRERO, J.: This is an automatic review of the decision of the Court of First Instance of Manila finding the accused RogelioRamos y Gaerlan in Criminal Case No. 61029 guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violation of Section 4, Article II, inrelation to Section 2(i), Article I of the Republic Act No. 6425, as amended by P.D. No. 44 and further amended byP.D. No. 1675, and imposing upon him the penalty of reclusion perpetua .There is no dispute about the facts of this case. At about 10:00 o'clock in the evening of May 3. 1981, while P/Lt. E.Mediavillo and P/Sgt. A. Linga were on routine patrol along Taft Avenue, they had seen and observed one MALCONOLEVERE y NAPA, acting suspiciously near the corner of Estrada Street. 1  The police officers, after Identifyingthemselves, stopped and frisked the suspect and found in his possession dried marijuana leaves. 2  The police officersthereafter placed Malcon Olevere under arrest. Upon investigation, suspect Olevere declared that he bought the recoveredmarijuana leaves from one ROGELIO RAMOS y GAERLAN, alias Balanchoy . 3 The following day, May 4, 1981, at about 12:00 o'clock noon, a police team with suspect Malcon Olevere y Napaproceeded to the residence of appellant Rogelio Ramos y Gaerlan in 2366 Singalong, Malate, Manila and arrestedhim. The police operatives immediately brought appellant to the Drugs Enforcement Section Western PoliceDepartment Headquarters for investigation.During the custodial investigation, suspect Malcon Olevere executed a written sworn statement implicating theaccused-appellant Rogelio Ramos as the source of the marijuana leaves. 4  The accused, after having been dulyapprised of his constitutional rights, verbally admitted before Lt. E. Mediavillo and Sgt. A. Linga the commission of theoffense charged. He likewise admitted that he sold to Malcon Olevere the marijuana leaves for P10.00. 5 On May 22, 1981, upon arraignment, the accused-appellant Ramos entered a plea of not guilty to the informationfiled by assistant fiscal Antonio J. Ballena which states:That on or about May 4, 1981, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, not being authorizedby law to sell, deliver, give away to another or distribute any prohibited drug, did then and there willfullyand unlawfully sell or offer for sale and deliver dried marijuana leaves, which is a prohibited drug.Contrary to law. 6  At the trial, the prosecution presented three witnesses to wit: Patrolman Jaime Cruz, a police investigator, Patrolman Agapito Linga, a police agent, and Felisa Vequilla, an NBI forensic chemist.Patrolman Cruz testified that on May 5, 1981, he investigated and took down the sworn statement of one MalconOlevere who disclosed that the accused-appellant Ramos was the source of the marijuana leaves. Patrolman Cruz   Crime Report. 7  Patrolman Agapito Linga declared on the witness stand that Lt. Mediavilla arrested appellant Ramosbecause Malcon Olevere declared that the appellant sold to him the confiscated marijuana leaves. 8  The third witness, FelisaVequilla, a forensic chemist, affirmed that after conducting a dangerous drug test, the leaves confiscated from MalconOlevere are positive for marijuana. 9 The prosecution offered the following as documentary evidence: 10 Exhibit A The Booking Sheet and Arrest Report of accused Rogelio Ramos prepared by witnessPatrolman Cruz which was offered as part of his testimony;Exhibit B Crime Report dated May 6, 1981 also prepared by the witness Patrolman Cruz;Exhibit B-1 second page of Exhibit B'Exhibit C Sworn Statement of Malcon Olevere y Napa;Exhibit C-1 The bracketed portions of Exhibit C stating among others that it was Rogelio Ramosherein accused who furnished Malcon Olevere the marijuana leaves;Exhibit D-1 marijuana leaves examined;Exhibit E the envelope containing the marijuana leaves which was confiscated fromMalcon Olevere. After the trial, the Court of First Instance of Manila (now the Regional Trial Court) found the accused-appellantRamos guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged in view of the verbal admission given by the appellanthimself and the evidence offered and admitted in court. The dispositive portion of its judgment reads:WHEREFORE, accused ROGELIO RAMOS y GAERLAN is hereby found guilty beyond reasonabledoubt of a violation of Section 4, Article II in relation to Section 2(i), Article I Republic Act No. 6425, asamended by PD 44 and further amended by PD 1675 as charged in the present information, for sellingsubject prohibited drugs (marijuana leaves) without any lawful authority and is hereby sentenced tosuffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua (life imprisonment); to pay a fine of Twenty Thousand(P20,000.00) pesos, without any subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency; and to pay the costs.Let the accused be given full credit of the entire period of his preventive imprisonment.Subject marijuana leaves (Exhibit E) are confiscated, to be destroyed by the Dangerous Drugs Boardpursuant to law.SO ORDERED. 11 The case is now before Us for automatic review. Accused-appellant submits before this Honorable Court thefollowing errors: 12 IThat the court erred in finding the accused guilty of violation of Section 4 Article II of Republic Act No.6425 otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, as amended (Selling-Pushing).IIThat the court erred in its findings both in question of law and fact in convicting the accusednotwithstanding the failure of the prosecution to adduce the quantum of evidence necessary toestablish the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt by failing to present Malcon Olevere yNapa, the person who claimed that it was the therein accused who allegedly sold the marijuana leaves.IIIThat the constitutional rights of the accused, more particularly the right to meet the witness against himface to face and to cross-examination e him has been violated.IVThat the court has acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to a denial of due process of law.  The principal issue in this case is whether there is competent and/or admissible evidence in the record to justify theconviction of the accused-appellant Ramos.We find petitioner's case meritorious. The lower court erred in admitting as evidence the written sworn affidavit of Malcon Olevere. It can be gleaned from the records that Malcon Olevere executed the written sworn statementdeclaring that appellant Ramos sold to him the marijuana leaves for P10.00. This piece of evidence is a mere scrapof paper because Malcon Olevere was not produced in court for cross-examination. An affidavit being taken ex- parte  is often incomplete and inaccurate. 13  Such kind of evidence is considered hearsay. 14  The constitutional right tomeet witnesses face to face 15  in order not to deprive persons of their lives and properties without due process of law is well-protected in our jurisprudence. Thus, in People vs. Toledo, 16  We elucidated: Testimony in open court in actual trial cannot be equated with any out-of-court declaration, even whenthe witness has in fact been confronted already by the defendant. The direct relevance of the trial to theultimate judgment as to the guilt or innocence of the accused is not present in any other proceedingand is thus a factor that can influence materially the conduct and demeanor of the witness as well asthe respective efforts of the counsels of the parties.For the court to admit the sworn statement of Malcon Olevere without giving the adverse party the right to cross-examine him would easily facilitate the fabrication of evidence and the perpetration of fraud. The inadmissibility of this sort of evidence is based, not only on the lack of opportunity on the part of the adverse party to cross-examinethe affiant, 17  but also on the commonly known fact that, generally, an affidavit is not prepared by the affiant himself but byanother who uses his own language in writing the affiant's statements which may either be omitted or misunderstood by theone writing them.  18 The Booking Sheet and the Dangerous Drug Report of chemist Felisa Vequilla which were presented as evidenceby the prosecution, established nothing to support the conviction of the appellant herein. For the same reason, thatMalcon Olevere was not presented as a witness and insofar as they impute to appellant the commission of the crimecharged, the adduced evidence are nothing but hearsay evidence. They cannot be regarded as competent evidenceas to the veracity of the contents therein.It is not disputed that the marijuana leaves recovered and tested by witness Vequilla came from Malcon Olevere andnot from appellant. It would be absurd and manifestly unjust to conclude that appellant had been selling marijuanastuff just because what were recovered from Olevere were real marijuana. Proof of one does not necessarily proveanother. Nowhere can it be found on the record that appellant was caught in possession or in the act of selling theprohibited marijuana leaves.The oral testimonies given by the witnesses for the prosecution prove nothing material and culpable against theaccused. As correctly pointed out by the Solicitor General not anyone of the three witnesses presented testified onthe basis of their personal knowledge that the appellant sold the marijuana leaves to Malcon Olevere. Under Rule130, Sec. 30 of the Revised Rules of Court, a witness can testify only to those facts which he knows of his ownknowledge, that is, which are derived from his own perception. ... A witness, therefore, may not testify as to what he merely learned from others, either because he was told or havingread or heard the same. Such testimony is considered hearsay and may not be received as proof of the truth of what he has learned. Since Malcon Olevere was not presented as a witness, the testimonies offered by thewitnesses for the prosecution are regarded as hearsay, insofar as they impute to the appellant the commission of the offense charged.The lower court in convicting appellant of the crime charged, Partly relief on the verbal admission made by appellanthimself before Lt. Mediavillo and Sgt. Linga during the custodial investigation. Although the records prove that theappellant has been duly apprised of his constitutional rights to silence and to counsel, 19  We are not fully convincedthat this apprisal was sufficiently manifested and intelligently understood and accepted by the appellant. This is fatal to theadmissibility of appellant's verbal admission. We have repeatedly emphasized that care should be taken in acceptingextrajudicial admissions, especially when taken during custodial investigation. In People vs. Caquioa, 20  We ruled:  As for the procedural safeguards to be employed, unless other fully effective means are devised toinform accused persons of their right to silence and assure a continuous opportunity to exercise it, thefollowing measures are required. Prior to questioning, the person must be warned that he has a right toremain silent, that any statement he does make be used as evidence against him, and that he has aright to the presence of an attorney, either retained or appointed. The defendant may waive effectuationof those rights provided the waiver is made voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently. If however, heindicates in any manner and at any stage of the prosecution that he wishes to consult with an attorney  before speaking, there can be no questioning. Likewise, if the individual is alone and indicates in anymanner that he does not wish to be interrogated, the police may not question him. The mere fact thathe may have answered some questions or volunteered some statements on his own does not deprivehim of the right to refrain from answering any further inquiries until he has consulted with an attorneyand thereafter consents to be questioned. Again, the constitutional rights of the accused to silence and to counsel is fortified in the very recent case of Moralesand Moncupa vs. Enrile   21  where this Court said:  At the time a person is arrested, it shall be the duty of the arresting officer to inform him of the reasonfor the arrest and he must be shown the warrant of arrest, if any. He shall be informed of hisconstitutional rights to remain silent and to counsel and that any statement he might make could beused against him. The person arrested shall have the right to communicate with his lawyer, a relative,or anyone he chooses by the most expedient means - by telephone if possible - or by letter or messenger. It shall be the responsibility of the arresting officer to see to it that this is accomplished. Nocustodial investigation shall be conducted unless it be in the presence of counsel engaged by theperson arrested, by any person on his behalf, or appointed by the court upon petition either of thedetainee himself or by anyone on his behalf. The right to counsel may be waived but the waiver shagnot be valid unless made with the assistance of counsel. Any statement obtained in violation of theprocedure herein laid down, whether exculpatory or inculpatory, in whole or in part, shall beinadmissible in evidence.In the case at bar, appellant has only finished Grade VI, 22  which means that he is not adequately educated tounderstand fairly and fully the significance of his constitutional rights to silence and to counsel. As mandated, it is not enoughthat the police investigator merely informs him of his constitutional rights to silence and to counsel, and then taking hisstatements down, the interrogating officer must have patience in explaining these rights to him. The records do not revealthat these requirements have been fully complied with, nor was there any showing that appellant has been represented bycounsel during custodial investigation. In consonance with Section 20 of the Bill of Rights which states that any confessionobtained in violation of this section shall be inadmissible in evidence, We hold that the verbal admissions of appellant duringcustodial investigation may not be taken in evidence against him. We hold and rule that the guilt of the accused has not been established beyond reasonable doubt and he is,therefore, entitled to acquittal.WHEREFORE, IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the decision of the Court of First Instance of Manila is REVERSED,and appellant is hereby ACQUITTED of the crime charged in the information. No costs.SO ORDERED. Makasiar (Chairman), Concepcion Jr., A bad Santos, De Castro and Escolin JJ., concur. Aquino, J., took no part.  Footnotes 1 Tsn, September 24, 1981, pp. 1-2.2 Record of Criminal Case No. 61029, p. 1.3 Tsn, September 24, 1981, pp. 2-3; Exhibit C,4 Exhibit C.5 Booking Sheet, Exhibit A.6 Record of Criminal Case No. 61029, p. 1.7 Tsn, September 24, 1981, pp. 1-3.8 Tsn, October 2, 1981, pp. 2-4.9 Tsn, October 2, 1981, pp. 1-2.10 Tsn, October 28, 1981, p. 1.
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